In the late summer of 2019, Terry McDonald shared with his wife, Diana, that he felt a strong urging from God to provide food to families and senior citizens who might be pressed to meet the obligations of high utility, housing and food costs. Terry and Diana, joined by their son, Jeff, took a step of faith by finding an economical source for canned goods, then driving 80 miles using personal funds to make the purchase. Fliers placed in public areas and Facebook were utilized to spread the word that on the third Saturday of October the doors of what is now known as Sharing is Caring Pantry would be open. From the beginning, this food was available to anyone, no questions asked as to their eligibility. About 20 persons came and received their choices from the selection of canned milk, fruit, vegetables, and some meat products. Bibles were displayed and were gladly received by several. Through conversation and prayer with those present, the McDonalds realized there was a dire need in our area.
Once again, they made the purchase of canned goods, adding requested bread, and decided to make food available the 3rd Saturday of each month until the end of the year. As Thanksgiving approached, typical holiday menu items were acquired so recipients had canned chicken, dressing mix, chicken broth, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce to enjoy a traditional meal. In December the pantry shelves contained canned hams, some candies and sweet treats for children and also an array of children’s toys and stocking stuffers. By this time, those coming to provide for their families had doubled in number and plans were made to continue this outreach into the new year of 2020.
Clifton Presbyterian Church, the McDonalds’ home church, joined the effort by contributing funds and other needed articles of food. Soon individuals and another church in Clifton and also one in Lutts began to make similar donations. The pantry items were expanded to include fresh milk and bread, more canned meats, cornmeal, sugar, and paper products. Two rooms of gently worn adult and children’s clothing were established while space was found for the ever growing selection of toys, books, and Biblical materials.
When Covid hit the country in early 2020, the number coming to the pantry steadily increased to as many as 50-70 and this trend continues. Volunteers are now working several days a week with Diana & Jeff, building and stabilizing shelving and clothes racks, sorting & sizing donated clothing, using only the cleanest and best items, and organizing the food and paper products on the shelves. Several sizable contributions from individuals made it possible to purchase food items not supplied by donations and also help on the maintenance by paying the electric bill or gas for driving to the source of canned goods. Some individuals give monthly directly into the Sharing is Caring bank account at Peoples Bank. For the last several months, a donation of as many as 32 dozen eggs has been gratefully received. Several donated refrigerators and freezers now accommodate larger amounts of milk, butter, and other items requiring refrigeration.
President Trump’s initiative to provide food during the Covid crisis resulted in the delivery of 1,400 boxes of food that required a refrigerated truck to keep it fresh while it was being distributed. For three days, individuals from local churches and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from Frank Hughes School placed much-welcomed boxes in the cars that lined up. Meanwhile, volunteers drove their personal vehicles taking these provisions to many people in the Clifton area. Several of these volunteers delivered as many as 60 boxes to individual homes.
One of the heartwarming aspects of this endeavor was a recent 3rd Saturday experience when Diana came early to the facility to find several people waiting. These early arrivals were familiar with the various areas and helped her as others flocked in. Some expressed their gratitude by leaving monetary donations such as they could spare. In Diana’s eyes, these expressions of gratitude and helpfulness were a sweet reward for all the work that has gone into this worthwhile cause. Those involved give all the Glory to God for the success of Sharing is Caring Pantry.
The Sharing is Caring Pantry has become a community effort under the direction of the McDonald family, who still personally underwrite the expenses. They give the credit for this community blessing to a message from God they could not ignore. The Pantry is located at 108 East Pillow Street in Clifton and open on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Donations can be made by contacting the McDonalds at 931-589-2236. At this time only children’s clothing is being accepted due to storage space and an over-abundance of adult clothes. This phone number can also be used for emergency needs; it may be necessary to leave a message which will be promptly returned.